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Outgoing UN envoy urges Sudanese to press ahead in 2010 on critical issues

By UN

8 February - The outgoing United Nations envoy in Sudan has lauded recent developments in the country's electoral process, and urged the parties to the north-south peace agreement to press ahead during what will be a crucial year for the nation.

Although challenges still existed, Ashraf Qazi said he is confident that the national elections scheduled for April – the first multi-party democratic ballot for decades in Sudan – will be held.

“By and large, [the elections would] satisfy the observers and above all the people of Sudan,” Mr. Qazi, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said in his farewell speech yesterday in Khartoum.

Mr. Qazi added that 2010 will be the last full year of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed by the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to end the long-running north-south civil war.

“It will be absolutely critical for 2011 when the referenda are scheduled to take place both in Abyei and in the south,” he said.

In a report released last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over the continued violence in southern Sudan, the lack of progress in resolving outstanding issues regarding the disputed, oil-rich border town of Abyei, and the slow pace of progress on border demarcation.

Mr. Qazi yesterday expressed his belief that the people of Sudan will overcome the challenges before them and sustain peace.

“This country is full of potential and promise and all that is needed is peace,” he noted, adding that Sudan's stability would also strengthen that of the region, and urging the parties to the CPA to keep building trust.

Meanwhile, reacting to recent comments by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sudan, the Special Representative said that the CPA will be successful whether Southern Sudan opted for unity or secession in next year's referendum, as long as that process is peaceful.

Mr. Qazi will be succeeded by Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios, who will take up his post in Sudan at the end of February.